Without reference to Stryer, I may be able to provide a little context.A rocket will never be able to leave the Earth’s atmosphere.” — New York Times, 1936
This is probably a lone voice in an opinion piece, as by 1936 the likely 'trajectory' of rocket technology was widely known and understood by those in a position to understand. This is despite Goddard's paranoid secrecy (proprietary protectiveness) and Germany's advances by then being cloaked by state security.
The basic rocketry principles were established by Tsiolkovsky in 1903 (including escape velocity), and the 1920s and early thirties were replete with academic publications, experiments in 'rocket mail', 'rocket cars' and a UFA feature Woman on the Moon. Von Braun was recruited into an amateur club of enthusiasts, the VfR, which experimented with liquid fuelled motors (to the extent that the VfR's poverty would permit), with the stated, ultimate (overconfident?) goal of sending a craft out of the atmosphere. By 1936 the VfR had been dissolved and reconstituted under military authority, thus no longer free to communicate and collaborate with similar groups internationally, as they had previously done and of which there was a few.
So nobody except an uninformed harumphing naysayer would claim in 1936 that "a rocket will never be able to leave the Earth's atmosphere".
(added p.s., VfR = Verein fur Raumschiffahrt = Society for Space Navigation) (fur takes an umlaut but dunno how to key one)